My First City 2 Surf Experience

“I decided to partake in the City2Surf this year. For those of you that don’t know of the race, it’s a 14km ‘half-marathon / fun run’ that starts from Sydney city and ends at Bondi Beach.” – Ben

It all started with Mikey convincing me that we should do the City2Surf this year. I previously would have laughed it off (like every other year), except he pointed out this would be a good excuse to go to the gym, do training and get fit. Since I started my heath kick in July 2011, and that he promised we could go in the Yellow Group (Jogging & Walking), I said yes.

I wasn’t aware of this initially, but the 2011 run was unique in a number of ways. Firstly, it was overcast, cool and rainy – apparently it is usually hot and sunny (making the run harder). Secondly, there was a record number of people (86,695) in this run. Thirdly, we were attempting to beat a Guinness world record for the ‘most number of people stretching simultaneously’. Whether Sydney is awarded that remains to be seen. I joked that there was no such record and this was merely an OH&S requirement for the event and they couldn’t figure out a way of making us all do it.

The World Record attempt for 'Largest number of people stretching at once'

I’m no runner. I have been doing a bit of running as exercise, but nothing that could be considered ‘near-marathon’ levels. I had previously bought new shoes, a heart rate monitor and had tried to get into running as much as I could beforehand. We woke up that morning sharing the same hope as the rest of Sydney, “please don’t rain”. I was able to snap a quick picture of the starting line for the Yellow group (below) which shows the sea of people all along College St.

My photo of The 'start' of the race (~8:40am)

At 9:05am the start gun went off and… nothing. One of the things you don’t expect is that the start of the race is really slow. You are barely walking for about 10-15 minutes as the mass of people slowly start to take off. We didn’t start running until we turned onto William St and it was downhill. The YouTube clip I found shows you the start of our group (unfortunately we were in the middle of that pack so it ends before we could have a chance to run by).

Running downhill was the easy part, I was silently dreading the ‘Heartbreak Hill’. I tried to live in ignorant bliss for as long as possible and not know the exact route or features until the very last minute. I was utterly depressed when I found out that the infamous ‘Heartbreak Hill’ is actually 4km long. Regardless I remained positive about doing it. I had been running a little bit and I did a 7km run at Iron Cove and managed to do that in 1:10 and that was with a lot of walking.

When I did see the route finally I wasn’t impressed that it didn’t go straight to Bondi, but rather loops around Rose Bay, Vaucluse and Dover Heights.

The course of the race - I tried to mark where Heartbreak Hill starts

One of the best aspects of the run is the people watching. There is a $5,000 prize for the best outfit and people have fun and run in all kinds of interesting outfits. Morph suits were abundant, but I’ve managed to track down some photos of the costumes I liked. The outfit I liked best was the ‘Sailor Girls‘ – which I used at various points during the race to gauge where we were in the pack. The photo provided immediately below doesn’t really do them justice, but I was happy to find at least 1 photo of them. If anyone has any more, or can find more, please let me know.

'The Sailor Girls' - Click image to view larger image. (Original Photo)

Photo sources from Flickr, visit the original photo here.

'Bananas' - Click on image to visit original photo

'Mario Brothers' - Click on image to visit original photo

'The Smurfs' - Click image to visit original photo

Photos sourced from MarzoSyd’s Flickr – Thank you for the awesome photos! It’s a shame I couldn’t find more photos online (considering almost everywhere you went there was a camera).

The run itself was a lot of fun. I even managed to sneak some time to live-tweet my progress at various points. I think I’ll do it again next year, though with more training and more running. I was able to find one image of Mikey & I stepping over the finish line.

Mike & I stepping over the finish line

After 14km you reach Bondi to a see of people. Stores, restaurants and venues are crazy busy. We had decided previously that we wanted to try (and rewarded ourselves with) Moo Burger. We managed to score a table and feast on meal that would make most people ill. In hindsight drinking a massive chocolate milkshake wasn’t the wisest choice.

'We made it' - Mike & Myself celebrating with a Moo Burger afterwards


p.s  – as an added bonus and thank you to my running coach Emma, here is a photo of Dr. Chris Brown (aka “Bondi Vet”) who took this photo demonstrating how to stretch before the run.

Dr. Chris Brown (Bondi Vet)

4 thoughts on “My First City 2 Surf Experience

  1. Congratulations on (b) making it to the finish line and (a) sticking to the non-zany sportswear. You didn’t get a phone number for those sailor girls, by any chance?

    • Thanks. I wasn’t aware of this but apparently of the 86,000 people that started, about 20,000 never officially cross the finish line – slackers. I didn’t get the number of the sailor girls, but I’m sure plenty of guys had a crack. We were actually ruder to the blonde female smurf, yelling out “HEY SMURFETTE, ITS TIME TO REPOPULATE THE SPECIES!” lol.

    • I didn’t see any Kenyan runners, but I was in the second lamest group (Yellow group = Joggers/Walkers). On the otherhand, we did challenge the New Zealand Professional Walkers Association – I think we beat them.

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